Library Literary Competition Winners

The Library is pleased to announce the winners of the Library’s Literary Competition for 2023/24! Students and staff were tasked to create short stories and poems using or taking inspiration from the starter sentence ‘The key turned in the lock and the door opened…‘,

We were looking forward to receiving lots of brilliant literary masterpieces featuring your own interpretations inspired by this creepy theme… and you rose to the challenge – we received many poems and short stories, and were simply amazed by the quality of all entries!

Congratulations to all of our winners and well done to all who took part. Here are the winners below. Please click on each one to view their winning literary masterpieces in full.

1st place - 'On the Bottom of My Heart' by Olesja Gruznova

The key turned in the lock and the door opened. I stepped into the most precious place in my life – my grandparent’s house. I opened the blackout curtains in the porch and looked through the window. It was obvious that Her Majesty, the Autumn, completely took over the power from Summer. The stubborn rain kept pouring all day long but soon afterwards came bright and colourful maple leaves, soaking up the dirt from under the trees in the boggy garden.

Just a few years ago, when my grandparents were alive, this house was very lively and busy, but now it is very quiet, lonely and cold. But every single corner and every little detail inside and outside reminds me of a happy, carefree childhood. I turned my head to the left and heard an apple tree knocking the window with its thick and ancient branches. It looked decrepit but still harvesting, nonetheless. I remembered how every Autumn, my granddad and I were picking these apples with the special wooden stick that he had handmade. It was many, many years ago but I still remember the taste and smell of those apples. The sweet smell filled my nose like it was yesterday.

I took a few more steps and opened another door. I sat at the vintage round, wooden table and started to list my memory pages. The kitchen always was my grandma’s field of work. Grandma was a very special and significant person in my life; my soulmate, my best friend, and the person I loved most. This wooden table knows a lot of stories and secrets from our lives, as we spoke, drank, and ate from here every night. Our idle talks were so meaningful for me. Thinking about them warms up my heart even now. The smells of pancakes, cinnamon pie, baked apples, tea with lingonberry jam, crackling and smoky woods in the Russian stove fill the air – these are the smells and tastes I remember from my cozy and warm childhood with my grandma.

A massive tear dropped on my goose bumped skin My sentimental memories, touched the strings of my soul. I was broken inside, but happy. I knew I had to remember what to share with my kids… I had how to teach them to cherish the moments with the loved ones.

My memories are like a book that I keep somewhere deep in my heart that belonged to me for the rest of my life and I could open it any time and start to relist it again and again…

Joint 2nd place - 'Hairdresser' by Marina Fjodorova

The key turned in the lock and the door opened. With excitement I entered in to the small, faded room. It had small, cracked windows. It was the entrance to my family home.

The house was built in 1920 by my grandparents and was the place I spent my whole childhood. The memories I have from the house are unforgettable. The smell of the wooden floor, the heat from the stove giving off the smell of burning wood. This made me tremble inside and put tears in my heart.

Because many miles now separate my family from the house, it has ended up empty and abandoned. The house itself is based in a small, remote village far from civilization.

Each time I come home, I always travel to this house. I am always full of memories and emotions when I am there. Oh how I wish I could bring back the special moments of my childhood, if only for a while; to feel the warmth of loved ones, to sit at a large round table with rickety chairs and drink tea in vintage cups from bed. When everyone had time for loved ones, when everyone appreciated moments together.

Joint 2nd place - 'Legacy!'

The key turned on the lock, and the heavy wooden door swung open, revealing a chamber deep beneath the old longhouse.

Siga, a humble blacksmith, had always had a deep longing to uncover the mysteries of old. As he stepped into the dimly lit room, the air held the weight of time, and the torchlight painted intriguing tales on the rugged stone walls, etched with runes.

His eyes widened as he approached a rough-hewn wooden table, its surface adorned with crafted drinking horns. The Nordic patterns etched into the horn told a story of craftmanship and dedication. He couldn’t help but imagine the ancient hands that had shaped them, passing down their skill through generations.

Closely were a set of aged scrolls inscribed with runes and sagas. They both held immense wisdom of his ancestors, offering insights into history. Their reverence to the land and sea and the deep connection they had with the elements. Siga could feel their spirits guiding him, filling him with a sense of belonging.

It was in a concealed alcove that Siga made his profound discovery; a mural painted on the stone walls. It depicted Viking longships sailing beneath the ethereal glow of the northern lights. The sight was awe-inspiring, the mural seemed to whisper tales of bravery, their bond with nature and their exploration of the unknown.

In that moment, a deep sense of gratitude and responsibility welled up within Siga. He wasn’t merely a blacksmith now! Now he was a keeper of a hidden history, a guardian of his Viking heritage. The key turning in the lock had not only revealed treasures, but it had also opened a door to his past, to the very essence of who he was.

With newfound determination, Siga embarked on a mission to unlock the Secrets of the Scrolls by deciphering the runes and understanding the ancient Sagas. He sought to shares the Viking legacy with the world. He would ensure that the stories and wisdom of his ancestors were not lost to the ages, that they would continue to inspire and remind all who followed that had the heart of a Viking, like his own. Still beating in the present, but echoing through time.

3rd place - 'Leaking Batteries' by Rowan Jones

The key turns in the lock and the door opens. She closes her eyes, breathes in a scent so close to familiar. It travels down, settles just above her gut. A light burning. A heavy nostalgia. A bittersweet melody of memories.

She lets it sit for a minute, before opening her eyes. She takes a step inside, ducks her head to accommodate the ceiling that once seemed so far beyond reach, but now brushes the top of her head. A smile crawls up her chest and onto her lips, tenses her cheeks, leaves her eyes aching.

Shattered windows let in creeping sunlight, warm against autumnal winds. A heavy layer of dust coats every surface it can cling to. Old drawings scribbled with crayons scatter a tiny, faded, plastic table. Her memories paint the colour so bright. A mustard yellow, the texture just rough enough to frustrate her when it showed through on paper. She pulls her sleeve down over her arm, brushes the dust away and perches on the edge.

Old fairy lights still surround the walls, held up by tape and the sheer determination of a five-year-old set on making her tree house look beautiful. She lets out a breathy laugh at the memory. Her hands tangled, scissors opening and closing but doing nothing more, held at an awkward angle. The weight of her tongue as it sat out her mouth, how her forehead creased in concentration.

She reaches out to the battery pack, turning it over in her hands. She flips the switch in an effort she knew to be futile, but one she thought worthy anyway. Nothing happened beyond the crunch of leaking batteries. She sits there, for a while. Runs her thumb over the smooth plastic, taps her foot, listens to the birds.

A part of her yearns to go back. Aches for the simplicity. Craves the persistent warmth of childhood. Another part, a lighter part, knows there is plenty of warmth still to be had. That joy does not have to fizzle out.

She clears her throat, stands up. Makes a note to pick up a sketchbook on the way home.

Some crayons. Maybe some fairy lights, too.

Library Choice - 'The Teen Boy with the Mirror Skin' by Albert L Stone

The key turned in the lock and the door opened, allowing 15-year-old Mark Emore to return to his boring, old home after another boring old day at school in another boring old day in his boring old life.

Little did he know that he was going to meet the best thing in his life.

When he trudged on the stairs and got to his room, Mark saw it on his bed. A black rectangular box. Out of a dual feeling of intrigue and confusion, he opened the box.

Even though the inside looked empty, it really wasn’t as he would discover a mini minute later.

Pulled out by his hand from the box was the most transparent type of rubber Mark has ever seen.

After getting the whole thing out, he discovered that it was some sort of suit due to the fact it was in the shape of a body.

Looking down without thought, Mark saw a similarly transparent, smaller bit of rubber in the shape of a head.

As he got it out, Mark carefully turned inside out, and to his pure amazement, he saw NOTHING.

Mark then decided out of further interest and for the sake of it, he chose to put the whole thing on his body, like one would with a surf-suit.

After he did so, Mark walked to his bathroom from across his bed, he looked in the mirror and only saw an empty bathroom in the mirror.

He went downstairs quietly, still wearing the ‘Mirror Skin’ (as he would eventually choose to call it) and stood right in front of the medium-sized screen his parents were staring at.

Immediately, Mark had discovered the obvious. With the ‘Mirror Skin’ on his body, he was INVISIBLE.

Whenever he put the ‘Mirror Skin’ on, two things would happen to Mark.

The first thing would be that he became quite the prankster, often moving things around or scaring other teens by acting like a poltergeist.

The second thing was that Mark was more than happy with it. Every second he wasn’t wearing the ‘Skin’, he was constantly impatient for when he would wear it again.

The ‘Skin’ made him feel more special than he ever did in his whole life. He loved it like a mother would love a new-born baby, or a kid with their favourite toy… perhaps a little too much.

As the months went on for Mark and his ‘Mirror Skin’, he started to use it for more ‘personal’ reasons, and this caused him to be more callous than he ever was.

In mid-Autumn, he ‘borrowed’ some money from the bank once a night until he had a hundred thousand stacks of money under his bed and the early spring, he completely locked the inside and outside of the house belonging to one of his classmates (who ratted him out for cheating on a test).

5 weeks before the next summer, it was the one-tear anniversary of the day he met the ‘Mirror Skin’. When Mark opened the front door into the house and unexpectedly faced three people; his parents and an official from the government.

“Er… what’s going on?”

The government official told Mark to sit down and so he did. He told him and his parents that Mark was chosen at random by the government for a year-long ‘test’ to see how he would use the ‘Mirror Skin’, which was created by the government-hired scientists using a combination of transparent rubber and see-through glass thanks to modern optics.

Finally, the official kindly asked for the ‘Skin’ back ad the ‘test’ was over. On the outside, Mark was calm and still as his eyes pranced about the room. On the inside, Mark was filled with rage and anger at the thought of ‘being nothing’ again.

“Can I go to the bathroom?”, the now 16-year-old Mark asked after being silent for a few seconds with a very intense deep breath.

The official allowed him to as Mark went up the stairs to his own personal bathroom in his room. The official and Mr and Mrs Emore then immediately began to wait for him. A wait that would soon become an impatient one.

Around 40 minutes later, all three of them went up to check on him, but when they opened the door, all they found in the empty bathroom was the opened and empty black box that young Mark found the ‘Mirror Skin’ in a year ago.

Mark Emore was never seen again.


Staff Winner - 'Whimsical Tale of Enchantment'

The key turned in the lock, and the door swung open with a whimsical creak. The library, a magical haven of books and tales, greeted Zoe with the soft rustle of pages and the enchanting scent of well-loved stories. It was unlike any library she had ever seen, with vibrant colours and fantastical creatures dancing across the shelves.

Zoe, a curious young girl with a love for adventure, stepped into the story-filled sanctuary. The shelves seemed to stretch into infinity, each book beckoning with promises of whimsy and wonder. The air buzzed with the excitement of literary possibilities.

As Zoe wandered through the enchanting aisles, the books themselves seemed to come to life. Dr Seuss-like characters popped out from their pages, inviting her to join them on fantastical journeys. The Cat in the Hat twirled his umbrella, and the Lorax whispered tales of environmental wonders. It was a symphony of literary delights.

In one corner, Zoe discovered a particularly magical book with a cover that sparkled with an ethereal glow. The key she held, shaped like a quirky quill, jiggled with excitement as she approached the book. With a giggle and a turn of the key, the pages fluttered open, revealing a realm of rhymes and riddles.

The library itself seemed to respond to the unlocking of this special book. Shelves rearranged themselves, creating secret passages and hidden nooks. The characters from various stories leapt off their shelves, forming a lively procession around Zoe. The Grinch high-fived the Cat in the Hat, and Horton the Elephant danced with the Sneetches in joyous celebration.

But as Zoe delved deeper into the enchanted book, a shadowy figure emerged from the rhyming pages. It was the Grumple, a mischievous creature born from the ink of unfinished tales. With a mischievous grin, the Grumple scattered words and sentences, creating chaos in the once-harmonious library.

Suddenly, the rhymes twisted into disarray, and the characters stumbled over nonsensical phrases. The once-lively library felt gloomy, and the joyous atmosphere turned sombre. Zoe realized that to restore the balance of the literary world, she needed to confront the Grumple and find the missing pieces of the story.

Armed with her quill-shaped key, Zoe embarked on a quest through the dishevelled library. She encountered characters trapped in jumbled sentences and stories that needed her imaginative touch to set them free. The library itself guided her, its magical essence resonating with every word she penned.

With each corrected sentence, the library regained its whimsical charm. The once-mischievous Grumple transformed into a giggling sprite, grateful for the order Zoe brought to the chaotic tales. The characters joined forces, creating a fantastical parade that wove through the shelves, celebrating the return of harmony.

As Zoe reached the heart of the library, she discovered a giant, ancient tome—the Book of Endless Tales. It held the power to bind stories together, ensuring that every character and plot found its rightful place. With a twirl of her quill-shaped key, Zoe unlocked the book and watched as its pages pulsed with magic.

The characters, now united in their love for stories, gathered around Zoe. The library shimmered with a kaleidoscope of colours, and the air buzzed with the energy of a thousand tales interwoven. The once-disjointed rhymes harmonized into a melodic chorus, echoing through the magical library.

With a final turn of the key, Zoe closed the Book of Endless Tales. The library, now more enchanting than ever, radiated with the joy of stories untold. The characters returned to their shelves, forever grateful for Zoe’s courage and creativity.

As Zoe stepped out of the magical library, she couldn’t help but smile. The key in her hand, now a cherished keepsake, held the power to unlock not just doors but the boundless imagination within every page. The library stood as a testament to the magic of storytelling, inviting readers to explore the wonders of worlds yet to be discovered.

Staff 2nd place - 'The Numbers Game ' by David Wilkins

I put the key

And slowly turned

To the left

As I had learned


But much as I tried.

It wouldn’t budge.

I gave it a push.

I gave it a nudge.

Fear began to fill my head.

And I shuddered I heard a sound.

But no one was here

No one was around.


But I had to get in.

So, my fear grew.

On the door it said 21

But I lived at twenty-two.

The following students submitted work which was highly commended by Library staff, thank you for taking the time to enter and well done for creating such brilliant interpretations and responses  to the theme.

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